We may not always have control over what happens to us, but we always have a choice over what happens inside us.
–J.T. Garrett and Michael Tlanusta Garrett
These clear and simple truths are based on traditional American Indian beliefs. They illuminate the values underlying the Cherokee vision of the Full Circle, and they can help us begin living our lives in more connected, healed, and whole ways.
1. We are our own best experts. No one knows us better than us. Nobody but us has seen with our eyes the things we’ve seen, and most importantly, no one but us has experienced our lives in quite the same way that we have. What others do know of us, they know only through what they see and what we tell them. It is our choice whether or not to invite others to see with our eyes or walk in our shoes; it is their choice whether or not to do so.
2. We are our own worst enemies. No one does a better job of deceiving us or treating ourselves badly than we do. No one can do a better job of finding ways to ignore our innermost thoughts and fears than we can. Certainly, other people may try to make us feel badly, or want us to be different than we are; however, their success depends on our willingness to let them succeed in doing so. Our success in doing ourselves wrong depends solely on intention.
3. The worst thing about having so many choices is having to choose. No one can say for sure who is truly worse off: the one who is forced to do something and wishes she or he could do something entirely different, or the one who freely chooses to do something and later regrets it.
4. Imagination is the one true measure of freedom. It’s not a matter of what you can or cannot do, but what you think you can or cannot do that matters. Inevitably, the rest will follow in time. Being open to experience or the possibilities of every situation reflects the inner strength of one who has established harmony within oneself.
5. Wisdom is having more questions than answers. The one who has found all the answers to his or her questions has run out of questions. The one who has run out of questions has run out of learning. A person who ceases to learn has also ceased to experience. And a person who has run out of experience cannot be wise.
6. Search long and hard enough for something and you’ll surely find it. Sometimes we look for something when there is nothing. However, if we keep looking for it to be there, almost miraculously it will be–this is especially true of limitations. Moreover, the harder we look for a certain quality of limitation, the more likely it is to appear before our very eyes. At the same time, if you look too hard for something you might miss it altogether.
7. Sometimes we try so hard to be what we’re not that we may forget who we are. Our nature provides us with opportunities for becoming something much greater than ourselves. However, if a circle tries to bend by ignoring its center, it’s no longer a circle.
Adapted from The Cherokee Full Circle, by J.T. Garrett and Michael Tlanusta Garrett (Inner Traditions, 2002). Copyright (c) 2002 by J.T. Garrett and Michael Tlanusta Garrett. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from The Cherokee Full Circle, by J.T. Garrett and Michael Tlanusta Garrett (Inner Traditions, 2002).